campaigners have hailed as a “breakthrough” Scottish Government recognition that a flyover is needed at the A90/A937 Marykirk junction.
While national agency Transport Scotland has long maintained there is no need for an upgrade at the accident blackspot Alex Neil, cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment, has said the junction is “on his radar” and he is looking forward to detailed proposals being brought forward.
His comments were made during an infrastructure and capital investment committee meeting last Wednesday.
As part of a costing exercise requested by transport minister Keith Brown, Transport Scotland said a grade separated junction would cost between £13 million and £28 million.
But local woman Jill Fotheringham, who has been campaigning for improvements for the last six years and lodged a petition with the parliament’s public petitions committee, has since put forward the idea of a split level junction rather than grade separation.
The idea arose from a suggestion put forward in the BBC documentary ‘Britain’s Killer Roads’, broadcast in November. An independent roads engineer consulted by the programme makers mooted the idea as a more reasonable alternative, observing that the current layout is one of the most dangerous designs that could be employed.
But despite the investigation and costing report put forward in September, the verdict of the independent engineer and the designation of the A937 as one of the country’s most dangerous roads, Transport Scotland continued to deny there was a problem and maintained there were no plans to upgrade the junction.
Ms Fotheringham this week said she is happy that problems with the junction’s current layout have been specifically acknowledged after years of “being ignored”.
She said: “Finally someone in the Scottish Government has acknowledged a need for this after all the times we went down to the parliament to be told that we didn’t need it.
“Whether it is actually ‘on their radar’, it’s a step in the right direction and I think it’s great news.
“Just for someone in that department to say there is a need is quite something. I know there’s a lot more work to do but this is a big breakthrough.
“I’m very grateful for all the help I’ve had and for all the help beforehand, from former MSP Mike Rumbles who backed the campaign from the start to the petition committee members and all those who have shouted it from the rooftops.”
The news was also welcomed by fellow campaigner Councillor David May, who has maintained that pressure in the junction will continue to grow with future development in the town and Hillside, and possible development of the South Montrose area.
He said: “I’m delighted they’ve acknowledged there’s an issue. We’ve pursued this for several years and been ignored for several years. The last Transport Scotland report completely ignored the Montrose issues so I just hope this is translated into action.
“We’re fed up with rhetoric and are now looking for action to be taken.”
Angus North and Mearns MSP Nigel Don also congratulated campaigners for their persistence.
He said: “I welcome that fact that the cabinet secretary confirmed that he is well aware of the problems which already exist at the Laurencekirk junction. He acknowledged that the project is not yet shovel-ready and that a lot of work still had to be done, but none-the-less confirmed that the project is ‘on the radar’.
“I think this reflects the considerable amount of work done by local campaigners and MSPs. I will continue to press for the necessary preliminary design work to be carried out as soon as possible.”